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Changes in the environment prompt a new club

St. Martin’s Episcopal School is addressing our planet’s changing environment and gradually becoming a more eco-friendly community through actions such as recycling and environmental clubs. These changes, beginning this year, were due to popular demand by many students and faculty to create a more green campus.

Upper School Science Teacher Stacy Richards not only teaches biology, but she devotes an entire class to educating students about the natural world and its preservation: environmental science.

A few years ago, Richards agreed to sponsor the Eco-Warriors club, which provided a way for students to take action in cleaning up our planet. The students who founded the club wanted to be involved in an organization dealing with environmental issues, according to Richards. These active students began a recycling campaign that continues to this day.

“It’s come a long way,” Richards said. “When I first started (teaching at St. Martin’s), they didn’t have any type of recycling program, and now there are recycling bins in every room. From when I started 12 years ago to now, (our school has) come a long way.”

Reusing materials that could otherwise be harmful to the environment is a fundamental principle for environmentalists throughout the world, including those in Eco-Warriors and Environmental Science. The school has recently started working with a company that provides guidelines on what can and cannot be recycled in their bins.

With access to these new resources, the St. Martin’s community has stepped up to utilize them.

“With these guidelines, we were left with materials that we could not effectively and properly recycle or remove,” said President of Eco-Warriors Senior Alec Ricci. “We decided that we could use these materials for a better purpose rather than just getting rid of them. We not only reuse the recyclable material, but we also teach others (how) they could be repurposed, such as old milk cartons being converted into planters or scrap metal into works of art.”

The struggle with pollution goes beyond our campus; this global issue worries a number of people about what the future may hold. Toxic waste, harmful plastics, and climate changes are affecting the place humanity calls home.

Despite the grim circumstances, some environmentalists believe there is still hope for the world.

“Now that it’s in the classrooms and it’s being taught on all levels, (...) I think the future is bright because I think the awareness will be embedded in all of you,” Richards said. “I think your generation and your children will be the ones to step up and come up with the solutions to these problems.”

While recycling is a major method of preserving the environment, scientists are still attempting to find more innovative solutions to eliminate hazardous substances and protect the planet.

“There are some new solutions already out there,” Richards said. “In the oceans, I’ve seen in news articles that people are already designing an apparatus that will allow water to flow through it but filter the trash. At least there are people out there thinking about it.”

People can spur change, but governments throughout the region, the country, and the world need to do their part as well to prevent natural destruction. Governments could limit deforestation, for example, via laws that keep major logging companies from destroying large areas that house unique species. Not only would these laws keep wildlife safe, but they would also protect forests from obliteration.

Richards believes that new generations will be able to bring about legal changes and transform the way the government handles environmental issues that will only worsen in the coming years if people do not take action.

“It’s a matter of limiting logging and limiting what people can and cannot do in certain forested areas,” Richards said. “You all will be voting soon, so you can have a say in that, which will be good since your generation is more aware than your parents and their parents.”

Making a major change with legislation is important, but even small changes can help the environment, according to Richards.

Many people make a difference every day without even realizing it by gardening. Home gardens and planting have become increasingly common, with many neighborhoods encouraging the residents to create spaces outside of their homes for growing their own flora.

The concrete jungles of yesterday may soon become the green gardens of tomorrow.

Richard’s environmental science class helps stress the importance of planting on her students by having a class garden for which the students are responsible.

“Through building these gardens, I’ve learned about sustainability,” said Senior Sophia Musso. “It’s helped me think more critically.”

Richard’s ultimate goal is to spread awareness to her students and produce environmentally-conscious young people who will defend the natural wonders of the world.

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